Caf & eacute; 5-Ten -- Caf & eacute; 5-Ten is an appealing bistro with an interesting menu, offering intriguing items in nearly every price range and located in a surprisingly pleasant space in the lower level of the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center. The appetizer of grilled, thinly sliced lamb ($9), served with grilled flat bread and a unique hummus, was one of the most satisfying I've recently had. The six-ounce culot sirloin steak ($14), which was grilled and served with gruyere potato gratin and seasonal vegetables, was perfectly cooked and tender as butter, with a nice reduction sauce for added interest. The potato gratin was a treat, with abundant creamy cheese layered with tender potatoes and topped with a crunchy crust of bread crumbs. The pot de creme was luscious, with the smooth, cool chocolate creating the perfect finale to our meal. Service throughout the evening was top-notch and every effort was made to keep us comfortable and happy. 2727 Mt. Vernon. Call: 533-0064. (LM)
The Park Inn Park Plaza -- It's old skool pub grub all the way in a super-casual atmosphere: burgers, deli sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads, some dinner entrees and "others," such as the delectably dangerous-sounding chili dog ($5.75). For pizza, try the 12-inch ML Special ($13.75), with sausage, beef, mushroom, olive, onion and fresh tomato. It's generous with a thin crust, a hint of sauce and a mountain of toppings. The grilled cheese sandwich ($4.75) was delicious and gooey with cheddar and provolone melted between two buttery, toasted slices of rye bread. The side of homemade chili (ordinary but perfectly mouth-watering, with a mound of cheese and onions on top) was a little bowl of satisfaction. The service was friendly, efficient and frequently hilarious. Smoking at the P.I. is most definitely allowed. 107 W. 9th Ave. Call: 624-8111. (MC)
Riverview Thai -- After many successful years at the Flour Mill, Riverview Thai has moved up the river to Riverwalk, the site of the now-defunct Bayou Brewery. The Khao Tom ($9.45) was a lovely Thai version of chicken and rice soup, with fragrant jasmine rice and ground chicken in a rich chicken broth, flavored with green onion, celery, garlic and cilantro. The Gaeng keow wahn ($11) with chicken combines green curry sauce with green peas, bamboo shoots, bell pepper and fresh basil -- a successful dish with the fragrant taste of the Thai basil dominating. Dinner on the lawn near the river was lovely, but an awkward arrangement for the wait staff. Nevertheless, service was friendly. 1003 E. Trent. Call: 922-4935. (LM)
The Cosmopolitan Caf & eacute; -- The Cosmopolitan is a friendly, casual and contemporary oasis with healthy, inventive salads and a great selection of sandwiches. The salad bar ($6.50) features roughly a dozen different freshly made creations (leafy green, corn and black bean, fruit, beet and walnut, penne with pesto and pine nuts, asparagus, etc.) The salads were uniformly interesting and delicious. The Chicago's Revenge (all sandwiches are $6.50), a meatball sandwich, was a combination of tender meatballs, thick, tangy red sauce, chopped onions, peppers and shredded mozzarella on a sturdy six-inch sandwich roll. Terrific (and fast) service seems to be the norm. 321 S. Dishman-Mica Road. Call: 922-4935. (MC)
Jimmy D's -- Jimmy D's has a new logo and name -- Stonegrill at Jimmy D's. The innovation? Each of the special plates has an inset of volcanic granite that is heated to 750 degrees. Upon this rock is your choice of beef or seafood, just seared on the outside. As you cut your food, you cook each bite a second or two on each side. Entrees are served with fresh vegetables and the starch of the day. There are a number of beef selections, including a New York cut ($19) and a ribeye ($18), but the filet mignon is billed as the ultimate Stonegrill experience (petite $17, large $19 and super $23). The ultimate surf and turf, a petite filet with the ahi tuna steak, was among the best tuna preparations I have had. The steak was similarly perfect, the Angus beef as tender as butter. I really found no need for the sauces, although they were tasty. 320 Sherman Ave., CDA. Call: (208) 664-9774. (LM)
China Best -- With an enormous menu that features approximately 150 items, generosity is the key at China Best. The "Wonderful Taste Noodles" ($4.25) lived up to their name to start the meal, with a heap of warm egg noodles topped with a perfect amount of thick, spicy sesame and peanut sauce. The Sliced Eggplant with Brown Sauce ($8.50) was heavenly, with the crispy breaded eggplant slices covered in a sticky sauce sparkling with garlicky, fruity tartness. Chicken Shreds with Pine Nuts ($12.25) was a light, flavorful surprise from the Chekiang province that we doubt we'll find anywhere else in town. The ambience of China Best may be its weakest point. 226 W. Riverside. Call: 455-9042. (Marty Demarest)
Capsule reviews are written by Lauren McAllister (LM) and Mike Corrigan (MC), unless otherwise noted.